Illustrator Spotlight: Jan Dolby


© Jan Dolby

We are excited to feature illustrator Jan Dolby and her website banner design, which placed first in our recent contest. We also feature her early reader, Willa the Werewolf, by Michele McAvoy (Little Press Publishing). Enter to win a copy via the Rafflecopter below (Canada addresses only)!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

I have been interested in art since I was a child. High school Art was my dream class. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to pursue a university degree in Fine Art from the University of Guelph. I loved my drawing and painting classes while I was there studying. No surprise.

After university, my career in arts administration began and I was extremely thankful to work with a group of visual artists who took me under their wing and pushed me to keep painting. So, I kept painting and had my first art exhibition which included artworks themed around entertainment. The artwork was fun and humourous. Very different from my university days. 

© Jan Dolby

After my children were born, I began collecting picture books for my kids but mainly for me. I realized that I had a real passion for picture books. As my kids got older, I started working on my artwork again. This time my paintings were even more colourful and whimsical. Probably because of my passion for picture books. I started to show my paintings in our local studio tour. This is where it gets interesting. During on of my studio tours, a lovely woman said I should think about illustrating picture books. She was the daughter of the famous Canadian illustrator Eugenie Fernandes. Who I would later travel with to the Caribbean for the Rainforest of Reading Festival. I illustrated my first picture book after that studio tour. 

© Jan Dolby

I am now represented by Dan Cramer, Page Turner Literary Agency and I have illustrated 35 picture books.

Congrats on your winning banner design! Tell us how you approached the project. 

For the KidLit411 banner I wanted to highlight my koala bear illustrations and keep the design simple in placement and colour. The koala bears were created in response to the fires in Australia a few years ago. The loss of wildlife hit home for me, and I felt the need to create some joyful bears. So, I’m happy that they will be enjoyed on the KidLit411 site. The koala bears were created using scanned watercolour on paper and the banner was created using Photoshop.

© Jan Dolby

Congrats on your newest book, Willa the Werewolf! Tell us about it. 

My newest book release is the first book of a modern fairy tale series, Willa the Werewolf, written by Michele McAvoy, illustrated by Jan Dolby, published by Little Press Publishing. This was a new genre of book for me, it’s an early reader. The illustrations needed to be more detailed for older readers and the character had to morph from a pig into a werewolf. Not an easy thing to draw. I think I nailed the morphing of the character after many drafts and really enjoyed drawing all the pigs in this book. I just finished working on the second book for this modern fairy tale series Curlilocks and the Three Hares by Andrew Hacket, published by Little Press Publishing and it comes out May 2024. 

© Jan Dolby

What projects are you working on now?

I just completed three author self-published picture books. One was an alphabet book for Canadian Veteran and Military children, second was a mother’s Invitro Fertilization journey, a story for her daughter and lastly a dog rescue picture book. Currently I am illustrating a music album cover for children, finishing a few dog portraits and about to begin drawings for the third book of the modern fairy tale series called Digital Red. 

© Jan Dolby

What advice would you give aspiring illustrators?

For aspiring illustrators, draw every day. Our artwork is always better than the day before. And keep your creative mind healthy. 

© Jan Dolby

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I’m a sports enthusiast. I love playing and watching sports.

© Jan Dolby

Where can people find you online?

You can find me online at my website: and on social media: Instagram @jandolby_artist; Facebook jandolbyartist X @jandolby Bluesky

My portfolio:


Jan Dolby is an internationally published illustrator and a Fine Arts graduate of The University of Guelph. She has illustrated over 35 picture books. Originally from St. John’s Newfoundland, Jan currently lives north of Toronto in Aurora, Ontario Canada with her family. Outside of her studio, Jan can be found on the beach shores of Lake Huron. She believes kindness and chocolate can cure anything. You can view her work at

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